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Summer 2016: The Forum, Los Angeles, CA (photo by David Tosti)
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Interesting Poll Implying that Music Really Matters

Poll: Let there be music -- and let it be legal

Two days ago at 10:38 | Reuters
SINGAPORE, Jan 28 (Reuters Life!) - Music really makes the world go round, with most people listing it as their favourite pastime, and one that they're willing to pay for to enjoy legally, according to a global survey.

The "Music Matters" survey of 8,000 adults in 13 countries, by market research firm Synovate, showed 63 percent ranked themselves as being passionate about music, with Brazilians at the top of the scale and Australians at the bottom . . .

Check out the rest HERE.

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I've enjoyed all the ideas and thoughts for and against the illegal downloading of music. Thanks again for your input. Some interesting points have been made in the comments.

The poll above gives me hope (as far as my position on the matter goes), but not only because it seems like the trend is turning into the fact that people are willing to pay for music, but also because it seems that music is still important to humankind, PERIOD.

That is the underlying fear that I have I guess when all these discussion are going on; that is, music is not only being devalued but it is also looked as something unnecessary to life. What are the school programs to be cut first when funds are low? Usually the arts.

BUT, I know that Nietzsche was on to something regarding the essence of life when he said, "Without music, life would be a mistake."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BBC Reports on the Future of Music

"Is Streaming the future of music?"

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News, in Cannes

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Good article. I think streaming is going to go a long way in 2010.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More about Sony Music v. Tenenbaum

To all my readers:

Thanks for your recent comments on the last
post about the Department of Justice's support
for the ruling involving illegal downloading in
Sony v. Tenenbaum. It was interesting to see
the reasoning behind why some of you agreed
and others disagreed. Because of your comments,
I feel I need to explain my views on this ruling a bit more.

First of all, I think here’s the main problem in a nutshell:

"Many computer users are either ignorant that
copyright laws apply to Internet activity, or they
simply believe that they will not be caught or
prosecuted for their conduct. Also, many infringers
do not consider the current copyright infringement
penalties a real threat and continue infringing,
even after a copyright owner puts them on notice
that their actions constitute infringement and
that they should stop the activity or face legal action."
H.R. Rep. 106-216, at 3 (1999).

Illegal downloading has crippled the music industry,
mainly in terms of CDs sales. Do you know what
it is play a show and not be able to sell your CDs
because bootleggers are undercutting you outside
of the venue? (This happened to a friend of mine
more while on tour in Latin America.) As another example,
about two years ago, I heard from a reliable source
that “Typical” had been illegal downloaded more
than 500,000 times. That is just
one song, on one album, from one artist.

The point is that selling CDs was once a viable means of
income for record labels, artists, and other entities
in the music business, but this has almost completely
vanished. Now, it seems an artist has to work twice as hard
to make half as much.

However, there exists a legal alternative to downloading
music via iTunes, Amazon, and others that thankfully
is gaining ground and becoming increasingly popular
little by little, but because of its ease and supposed anonymity,
people still choose to download music illegally.

So how does the court or record industry measure
the value of these lost sales from illegal downloading?
The current the statutory damages for copyright
infringement range between “$750 and $30,000
per infringed work, with a maximum of $150,000
for a willful violation.” Pub. L. No. 106-160, § 2.

Some may think that these damages are far-fetched
(Professor Nesson calls this extortion
on part of the RIAA in the video below),
but are they? Think about the hundreds of thousands
of computer users who are stealing and infringing on
material that is supposedly protected under copyright
laws, and by the way, illegal downloading is stealing,
which is why I quite don’t understand the moral
stance against this ruling. Let’s remember
Commandment 8: You shall not steal.

What happens to those who steal and are caught?
What is the correct moral path to take to uphold
the code? Well, that depends on which moral code
one adheres to, right? The code that applies here
is the Copyright Act. This is about upholding a statute,
not really about morals.

I think the Court is simply trying to uphold the current statutory
law. The damages are in accordance
to a 1999 amendment made to the Copyright Act,
which was established in 1790 (and as an example
as to the severity in which the statute was originally
designed to treat its infringers, it makes each one
of them liable for “the sum of fifty cents for every
sheet which shall be found in his or their possession.”)
Image what $.50 would buy back in the 1790s. So, is the
original design of severity in the Copyright Act seem
immoral? Does the punishment not fit the crime?

Will I, as an artist, directly see any of this money
recently awarded as damages? No. Of course not,
but that is not the point. The point is to uphold
copyright law and to teach the public that copyright
infringement is a serious offense (both civil and criminal
– “Congress’ intent to create a civil remedy of
statutory damages is further evidenced by its
inclusion of a separate section within the Copyright
Act establishing criminal offenses and penalties for
infringement.”), and if illegal downloading is
lessened because of it, I will indirectly see this
money because my whole industry will gain from it.

Also, Defendant Tenenbaum argues that “the Copyright
Act’s statutory damages provision is unconstitutional
as applied to infringers who do not seek commercial
gain because the damages it authorizes are
disproportionate to the harm caused by non-commercial
infringement.” However, the Court concludes that
“the language and history of the Copyright Act
demonstrate that statutory damages may be awarded
against an infringer who does not seek to profit from
infringement.”

I encourage you to read Memo from the DoJ (linked above), and
watch the two videos below. Please, let me know what
you think. By the way, pay particular attention to what Oppenheim
says about Tenenbaum's changing stance, and Nesson's
views of the RIAA (the RIAA posed as a traffic cop giving out
unwarranted tickets, really?).



Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama DOJ Defends $675,000 File-sharing Damages Award


Authored by Mark Hefflinger on January 20, 2010 - 11:28am.
Washington - The Obama Justice Dept. has submitted a filing defending a $675,000 damages award for copyright infringement on a file-sharing network, the Copyrights and Campaigns blog reported. Joel Tenenbaum was found guilty of sharing 30 songs on Kazaa, and ordered to pay the record labels damages of $22,500 per song. He has since asked the court to either reduce the damages or grant him a new trial, arguing the damages amount is unconstitutional.

In its filing, the Justice Dept. argues that Tenenbaum's actions caused "great public harm."

"In establishing the range [of copyright damage amounts: $750 to $150,000 per infringement], Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe they will go unnoticed," reads the DOJ filing.

"The harms Congress sought to address, moreover, are not negated merely because an infringer does not seek commercial gain. Accordingly, the statutory range specified by Congress for a copyright infringement satisfies due process."
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I hope this ruling deters others from continuing to use illegal means of downloading music. Wow, $22,500 per song. That would definitely help me support my wife and son!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hope for Haiti Now

I have a Haitian friend, James, from my church who recently helped me tremendously. James is probably one of the happiest, uplifting persons I've ever come across. No matter what difficulties we faced in the project we worked together on, James was always smiling.

I can only imagine what James must be going through with the recent devastation in Haiti, but as I watched the Hope for Haiti Now concert last night (which I particularly like performances by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z with Bono and the Edge), I kept thinking of James' smile and great, positive attitude. I've seen some of that same positivity and tenacious spirit in the Haitian people as the news channels have covered the horrors. I hope and pray that all the money raised will be used appropriately in order to get the right type of aid to the Haitian people quickly.

God bless Haiti and help rebuild it now.

Here's a list of legitimate charities working in Haiti (as posted on charitynavigator.org - http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1004):

"On January 12th a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince and caused massive devastation to the city. The death toll is expected to be well in the thousands and a massive response by government agencies and non-profits has already begun. Here are a few of our 3 and 4-star charities responding to the crisis along with a synopsis of their plans. Each of these charities has a history of working on massive disasters and/or of working in Haiti.

  • American Red Cross - The ARC is sending tarps, hygiene items and cooking sets for approximately 5,000 families and is helping the injured who may need blood. Thousands of local Red Cross volunteers are already aiding their fellow Haitians and ARC Disaster management specialists are scheduled to be on the ground soon.

  • Americares - Sending $5 million of medical aid to survivors including antibiotics, pain relievers, bandages and medical supplies for survivors with trauma injuries.

  • CARE - Deploying emergency team members to Port-au-Prince and will be distributing food. Over 100 staff members on the ground coordinating with U.N. agencies.

  • Convoy of Hope - Setting up an emergency command center just outside Port-au-Prince where food, water and supplies are being distributed.

  • Direct Relief International - Arranging an emergency airlift containing over $2 million in medicines and medical supplies that will depart on January 15.

  • Doctors Without Borders - Currently treating people on the ground and will be operating an inflatable hospital.

  • Food for the Poor - Accepting cash donations, canned eats, fish, condensed/evaporated/powdered milk, and water. Almost 100 containers of urgently needed medical supplies, rice and canned food from Food For The Poor are ready to be distributed to the people of Haiti. Another 300 containers are planned as a part of the initial relief effort.

  • Partners in Health - Has been working in Haiti for 20 years. They are organizing medical personnel volunteers and gathering supplies.

  • Save the Children - Has worked in Haiti for 25 years with 100 staff on the ground. Will be providing food, water, shelter and child-friendly spaces. Because Save the Children's offices did not suffer the structural damage of other non-governmental organizations, other aid workers have taken refuge in the agency's compound, where operations are being run out of offices and tents.

  • Water Missions International -Raising funds so they can directly provide safe water to earthquake survivors. Has full-time staff on the ground in Port-au-Prince and are poised to respond as quickly as possible to the survivors of the quake.

Of course, these are just a few of the many charities offering aid. For other options for your philanthropic investment, please refer to our extended list of highly-rated charities on the right.

Tips For Funding Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

Avoid Newly-Formed Charities and Give To An Established Charity That Has Worked In Haiti - Establishing a new charity is hard enough, but in a crisis, the odds of succeeding are slim to none. Think of it this way: would you entrust all your savings in a financial firm that just opened, doesn't even have stationery, and whose employees have no experience in investing money? Doubtful. Find a charity with a proven track record of success in providing disaster relief and one that has worked in Haiti. Start with the list of charities on the right and if a group you are considering supporting isn’t there, then take the time to thoroughly research it before making a gift.

Do Not Give To The Haitian Government – Haiti is known to be a corrupt country. And news reports post earthquake indicate that the government is pretty much not functioning. If that isn’t enough reason not to give directly to the Haiti government, then consider the fact that contributions to foreign governments are not tax deductible.

Designate Your Investment – Generally, it is best to trust your chosen charity to spend your donation as it sees fit. But with disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation only used to respond to this particular crisis.

Do Not Send Supplies – Knowing that millions of people are desperately in need of food and water, it is hard not to want to pack up a box of supplies and send it to Haiti. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to Haiti, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.

Be Careful Of Email Solicitations

  • Be Leery Of People That Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim – Unless you personally know someone in Haiti, anyone alleging to be in this position is most likely part of a scam. Obviously, people affected by the earthquake are in no position to contact you directly for assistance.
  • Delete Unsolicited Emails With Attachments - Never respond to unsolicited emails. Do not open any attachments to these emails even if they claim to contain pictures from Haiti. These attachments are probably viruses.

Seek Out The Charity’s Authorized Website – Refer to ourblog from yesterday as to why this is important.

Is it safe to make a text donation? - So long as you do your homework, yes. Please visit our blog for a longer explanation.

Consider The Nature Of The Charity’s Work – Not every charity is responding in the same way. Some are providing medical assistance, some shelter, some food and water. Others will be more focused on either short term or long term rebuilding efforts. And some are just helping to fundraise for other nonprofits. Think about what it is you want your philanthropic investment to accomplish and then take the time to find the charities doing that work. At Charity Navigator we link to each charity’s website so that you can quickly learn more about their plans to help in Haiti.

Be Inspired By Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework – Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are delivering heart-wrenching images and information about Haiti to our computers and phones. Many of them include pleas to donate. While these tools can be a powerful tool to inspire your desire to help, you should not blindly give via these vehicles. You must take the time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help to ensure that it comes from a legitimate nonprofit. For example, you can donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to 90999. As of today, this tool has raised tens of millions for the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Avoid Telemarketers – As always, hang up the phone do your homework and give directly to a charity.

Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes- It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 & The Music Business

In spite of the difficulties posed by illegal downloading (limewire) and similar non-profitable uses of one's music on websites (youtube), it's an exciting time to be involved in music because the possibilities are endless. However, I must add that I'm on the edge of my seat for something big (and by "big" I mead lucrative) to happen soon!

So, what is that next thing that will revolutionize the music business? Where is this all going in 2010? Before answering that, think about what has happened in the last decade or so. Back in 1997, I vividly remember a computer savvy friend of mine telling me about something called an mp3 and WinAmp, and how it was going to change music. I tried it out but didn't quite grasp the power (probably because I was didn't have a great computer at the time). Personally, I never used Napster, but it is undeniable that's where the mp3 got its big break. Fast forward a bit around 1999 and 2000: I bought a mini-disc player and recorded a lot of my CDs into the player (among other personal musical ideas with a tiny microphone), but I never bought any mini-disc releases even though I saw a few of them in a Tower Records store in London.

Then, something very significant happen to me in 2001. I bought a Mac iBook (with iTunes OS 9) and an iPod for my girlfriend. With the advent of iTunes and the steady surge of Apple's popularity, I think music lovers started building their mp3 collections and forgot about their CD collections. I think that's when I started collecting mp3s and converting all my CDs, especially since I was moving around a lot at the time and didn't want to carry all my CDs everywhere.

I must add that I've been simultaneously buying vinyl since I can remember. It all started with my Dad's records (Beatles, Kinks, Rolling Stones). I eventually started ordering LPs and EPs mainly from punk rock labels like Dischord Records and Lookout Records, and once I bought my first sampler in 1998, I started digging my way through unwanted vinyl at local thrift stores to make beats. Currently, I prefer to buy the vinyl version of a new release because I get the large artwork, and the records now usually come with a digital release as well. The problem is that I'm much more selective due to the cumbersome nature of vinyl. Where does one store it all? But I'm kind of having the same problem with mp3s, too. Since 2001, my mp3 collection has grown and grown, so much in fact, that I keep having to buy hard drives to back them up, which leads me to believe where the next movement in music may go.

I'm inclined to believe that the "next big thing" in 2010 will be websites that store one's mp3s on remote servers. I'm thinking it will be in the spirit of lala.com but with more benefits, e.g., one can always listen to the web songs online from any source, and for a subscription fee, it would allow one to download a certain number of mp3s per week, in order to burn CDs or onto mp3 players for one's car; or perhaps one wouldn't even need to "download" the mp3s in order to make CDs but instead, it would be able to burn it directly from the server; or what if the server communicated directly with the mp3 player so that space was never eaten up on one's computer?

These websites would also pay the artists for spins on their sites in addition to sales made of mp3s. Other links should also be included on artists' pages, leading fans to band merchandise [like vinyl] and concert tickets.

I'm sure there will be many things in 2010 that will change the business, hopefully for the better. Whatever it may be, I hope that it will provide that what is best for the consumer and the artist.

Check out the articles below for more reading on this subject:

Napster Accuses Someone of Devaluing Music
By David Neal -- Former filesharing free-for-all Napster is warning that free music sites are detrimental to artists and labels and detract from the real value of music. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you.

Apple App Store Has Lost $450 Million To Piracy
By Garrett W. McIntyre with Phil MacDonald -- Bernstein analyst, Toni Sacconaghi, estimated that Apple's revenue from the App Store is between $60 million and $110 million per quarter. However, behind all this success lies an insidious force that has plagued the music, software, and movie industry for decades. Developers of iPhone applications have reported alarming piracy rates for their software...

Vevo Overtakes MySpace Music in U.S. Web Traffic
By Mark Hefflinger -- Vevo, the new music video portal joint venture between Universal Music, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music and Abu Dhabi Media Company, surpassed MySpace Music in Web traffic during December.

Everywhere-Access Key to Paid Music Models
After a decade of declining revenues, the US recorded music industry is more determined than ever to reverse its sagging fortunes and return to the luster of the 1990s. ... "While the first generation of US digital music services was predominantly download-based, the next iteration is likely to be based around subscription models," said Paul Verna.

Vintage Cab I used on MM debut (this is my dad's); it has two 15" Jensen speakers.